Twelve trains on the Ballarat railway line were delayed last month because of trespassers, including one who caused delays to five services.

While 97.8 per cent of services on the line were delivered, V/Line failed to meet its punctuality targets because of hot weather and people illegally crossing tracks, February performance figures show.

Less than 85 per cent of services arrived on time. The regional rail operator’s target is 92 per cent.

A V/Line spokesman wouldn’t divulge details of the trespass incidents, but said trespass typically involved people using train tracks as shortcuts or walking near the tracks.

“The rail reserve is a dangerous place to be for trespassers and anyone not authorised to be near the train tracks,” the spokesman said.

“Trespassing is strictly prohibited for good reason – it poses significant risk to those involved and to V/Line staff.”

An additional 14 services were delayed because of the hot weather, with a further 10 trains either finishing their journeys early or being cancelled last month.

The spokesman said rail operators throughout the world reduced the speed of trains during hot weather to minimise the risk of derailment caused when steel expanded in heat.

Patronage on the line has increased by almost 20 per cent since the Regional Rail Link was introduced in June, 2015, according to V/Line’s performance figures.

Chief executive James Pinder said 10 new weekly services had been added to the Ballarat railway line timetable on January 29 to coincide with the opening of the Caroline Springs train station.

Two three-carriage VLocity trains have also been added to the line, in addition to the nine that were introduced in June, 2015.

“We’re working towards improving punctuality for passengers on the Ballarat line,” Mr Pinder said.

Public Transport Users Association Ballarat line spokesman Ben Lever said there were higher than usual complaints about Ballarat services last month, with many passengers unhappy about unreliability and overcrowding.

“This isn’t a suburban train,” Mr Lever said. “You don’t want to be standing up and being crammed like sardines.”